As reported in ENDS [paywall] and the Independent, a new report by the Plastic Soup Foundation states that millions of waste plastic “nurdles” from UK sewage plants on the east coast are polluting the North Sea and reaching the Dutch coast.
Sewage plants in Britain use black “bio beads”, also known as nurdles, to filter water, but spillages and heavy rainfall can wash them into watercourses where they are swept out to sea.
The research, by the marine conservation group Plastic Soup Foundation, discovered the plastic waste is likely to come from sewage treatment plants in Ipswich, Hull and Grimsby.
Once in the sea, storms, winds, and tidal currents drive the UK’s nurdles towards the shores of the Westerschelde in the southwestern Netherlands.
With millions of plastic nurdles entering the oceans, the report warned the plastic production sector is failing to put in place adequate preventative measures to stop spillages.
As part of the report, researchers reconstructed an event from March 2019 where thousands of black nurdles were found to have washed up on the beaches of Zuid-Holland.
Using data the researchers were able to track the nurdles back to the estuary of Orwell and Stour. The report also found at least 1 million nurdles present in the estuary.